Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Tales from the Café – Honest Book Review

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest book review.

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Review: 

I read the first book in this series a few months back and I was overjoyed to be able to jump back in with this second instalment. These books are almost comfort reads for me. They’re the perfect size to binge in a day and the stories are just beautiful. The way the deal with loss, love, joy and sadness is almost simple and human, they’re not hugely dramatic or over the top, they’re just simple, beautiful life.

We get 4 more stories in this volume, and of course the cafe workers and regulars are there still, so we get to continue to learn about their stories and their lives. They make for great framework with their compassion and the understanding of those who wish to time travel.

Interestingly we get to see someone travel forward in time, which was fascinating to see the reasons behind this and how it works out. And each story always feels fresh and human. I just can’t get enough of them.

This is the perfect read to curl up under a blanket and enjoy with a cup of tea. They’re just so simple and beautiful and I’m so in love with these books.

Synopsis:

In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time…

From the author of Before the Coffee Gets Cold comes a story of four new customers each of whom is hoping to take advantage of Cafe Funiculi Funicula’s time-travelling offer.

Among some faces that will be familiar to readers of Kawaguchi’s previous novel, we will be introduced to:

The man who goes back to see his best friend who died 22 years ago
The son who was unable to attend his own mother’s funeral
The man who travelled to see the girl who he could not marry
The old detective who never gave his wife that gift…

This beautiful, simple tale tells the story of people who must face up to their past, in order to move on with their lives. Kawaguchi once again invites the reader to ask themselves: what would you change if you could travel back in time? 

Notes from Small Planets – Honest Book Review

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Today it’s my turn to host the blog tour for ‘Notes from Small Planets’!

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Review:

It took my approximately 23 pages before I started recommending this book to people, and I’m pleased to say that by the end of the book I stand by my stance of ‘recommend this to everyone with a passing interest in sc-fi/fantasy’.

If I can’t travel this year, why not travel through this travel guide? Crowley has crafted 9 worlds that are simultaneously unique and also rooted in the foundations of the areas that they cover – for example wasteland or SPACE. You’ll find yourself fascinated with these places while also chuckling away to the Easter Eggs hidden within, and the cliches you never quite realised are there. Crowley has taken apart each of these settings and laid before you the workings of them, and the sheer ludicrousness of the conventions of them. Things you would never consider laid bare and you find yourself going ‘oh yeah, that is pretty daft’ or ‘wait Orcs are ALWAYS the bad guys’.

I’m sad we’ll never get to see each of these worlds in their own novels. Because I’m fairly sure that whatever books were set in them would be a wild ride filled with things we know, while pointing out how most of the books set in these types of worlds do share these similarities and ideas. They’re super rich worlds and ideas that I just wish we could keep exploring.

There’s a whole sub-plot going on between Eliza the editor and Floyd the writer. The footnotes contain a whole riot of story that will keep you laughing and add depth to these two characters who actually don’t really appear in the travel guide itself. Eliza is clearly the long suffering editor who has to deal with the issues Floyd seems to constantly cause, and calls him out on a lot of problems. My particular favourite being that of the Goblins/Orc children. Plus theres a whole plot around antlered elves that I would like to very much explore more, thank you.

This book also looks amazing. It has all the trappings of a travel guide, and the addition of the maps really made it for me. I love a good map and seeing them come to life as a kind of ‘stereotypical’ map of that type of world was just fun. It just looks so great. Plus the cover is stunning!

This book should be pride of place on any Fantasy and Sci-Fi lovers shelves. Even the most casual of reader will find Easter Eggs and be left feeling smug that they got that reference. This book is a complete riot and I loved it. It’s a must-read for all lovers of these genres!

Synopsis:

Journey from fantasy mountains to super-cities, through piratical seas and up into space without missing any must-see sights – or putting a foot wrong with the locals! Whether you’re Lord of the shoestring-budget or Luxe Skywalker – Notes from Small Planets is your pastiche passport through the best worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Your ultimate travel guide to all the must-see locations in the worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

 

The perfect gift for self-professed geeks and fans of all things genre – from classic genre listeners to new young disciples of nerdery. From misty mountains to wizarding schools, from the homes of superheroes to lairs of infamous villains – visit your favourite worlds and discover new ones – all without ever missing a single landmark or traditional dish. What’s orc for ‘bon voyage’? 

Follow along with the rest of the blog tour here: 

The Doors of Eden – Honest Book Review

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ★★★★ (4/5)

Review: 

So somehow this was my first ever Adrian Tchaikovsky book. I have no idea how I’ve managed this, but I can guarantee you that it won’t be the last.

This book is an incredible feat of world-building, multiple times over. It is insanely well researched, as he takes us through different evolutionary paths that the parallel Earths have taken, and how the world could have ended up incredibly different to the one that we know today. The interludes kept me fascinated as these parallel worlds are explored and I loved that they aren’t human-centric, not every dominant species is another version of humans, some never evolve speech or communities as we imagine it.

There’s a whole bunch of main character here, who we individually follow until their stories become intertwined to create a plot of epic proportions. There’s the ones you love, and the ones you hate. But they all play their part and they help create conflict where there perhaps might have been none. They are engrossing characters who all have their own interests in the parallel Earths, from scientific fascination, to dreams of lording it over the other places.

Tchaikovsky launches us through a series of parallel Earths, many of which are re-visited several times and their mysteries are slowly unravelled and their links to the plot become solid and clear. Specifically the world with the rats and the ice world are really going to stick with me. The world-building is so impressive and expansive that they really do feel individual and with a tonne of depth to them.

I loved this book. It’s epic and fascinating and will change your perspective of sci-fi and parallel worlds. It’s well-researched and the world-building is some of the best I’ve come across. Read it and you will not be disappointed.

Synopsis:

They thought we were safe. They were wrong.

Four years ago, two girls went looking for monsters on Bodmin Moor. Only one came back.

Lee thought she’d lost Mal, but now she’s miraculously returned. But what happened that day on the moors? And where has she been all this time? Mal’s reappearance hasn’t gone unnoticed by MI5 officers either, and Lee isn’t the only one with questions.

Julian Sabreur is investigating an attack on top physicist Kay Amal Khan. This leads Julian to clash with agents of an unknown power – and they may or may not be human. His only clue is grainy footage, showing a woman who supposedly died on Bodmin Moor.

Dr Khan’s research was theoretical; then she found cracks between our world and parallel Earths. Now these cracks are widening, revealing extraordinary creatures. And as the doors crash open, anything could come through.

 

Belle Vue – Honest Book Review

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ★★★ (3/5)

Review: 

TW: Rape, abuse, physical harm, mental illnesses

Belle Vue starts quick, and shockingly. It sets the tone for the rest of the book and how dark, disturbing and violent it stays. It’s definitely not a book for the faint hearted, and keeps you glued to the page the entire time.

I don’t think any of the characters are particularly likeable, and some just get worse the further into the book you go. I oddly thought Claire was the protagonist, so not only did I get some surprises but I was pretty surprised to learn that it’s actually Alex who is blurbed as our main character. At first I thought he was pretty flat. He seemed to be only there to give background information about the asylum and to either be constantly drunk or having sex with Claire. But, he has a pretty great scene at the end that was particularly great!

I think I missed a super important name somewhere. Because it threw a name out as someone super important and essentially who the story revolves around as the bad guy. But for the life of me I couldn’t remember who they are. (But please remember I’m fairly useless with names so that might very well be a me problem). I would have loved to see that character again or been given a little bit more context about how the fit into the modern day, just to jog my (sometimes lacking) memory.

I desperately wanted to know what was going to happen next. It really kept me glued to the page and crafting my own theories from the get go. Which I love doing and I really didn’t guess where it was going, which was a great surprise!

This book will keep you hooked.

Synopsis: 

Jealousy, betrayal, murder and a hunger for vengeance that spans the centuries…

History student Alex Palmer is thrilled when his girlfriend, Claire Ryan, buys an apartment in Belle Vue Manor, formerly a Victorian lunatic asylum.
But as Alex begins to discover the dark truth about the asylum’s past, he, Claire, and their friend Marianne find themselves on a nightmarish journey. Each will face the deadly consequences of the evil that began with the construction of the first Belle Vue Manor by an aristocratic French émigré in 1789, as well as the cruelty and satanic practices that continued when it became an asylum for the insane.
As the two strands—past and present—unfold, Alex uncovers a supernatural mystery where revenge is paramount and innocence irrelevant—without being aware of the price he, and those around him, will pay.
 

All the Stars and Teeth – Honest Book Review

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Review:

Oh, oh, oh I wasn’t sure how much I loved this book at the start but my god was I in love with it by the end! I feel like this is the best sea-faring fantasy I’ve read in a while, and I pre-ordered the next book in the series before I’d even finished it.

I really liked Amora, she’s incredibly strong-willed, sometimes to her detriment when it hurts those she’s closest to. But she’s strong, powerful and her wonder at her kingdom and at sailing really shone through for me. As I was discovering these loves alongside her. Plus the companions also make me love this ragtag crew. A mermaid who becomes such a beloved member, Bastain is the loveable pirate that I ended up really rooting for, and Amora’s fiancee who seems like a push over but shows his worth in the end. They’re a fantastic crew and I want to read more of their adventures.

Adalyn Grace has crafted a fantasy world that pulls from things we know and twists them to make them her own. The islands belonging to different groups of magics gives them all their unique flair, and I can’t wait to explore more of them and find their secrets! Mermaids take what you know and expand upon it in ways I didn’t expect. It’s a really rich, fantastic world that I’m excited to spend more time in.

The story flys by, it feels like there’s hardly any filler and thankfully the plot just flows, and you learn the plot easily and organically. There’s epic battles, characters with astonishing depth and a magic system to really sink your teeth into.

This book is wonderful, and truly, truly worth picking up and adding to your collection!

Synopsis: 

Set in a kingdom where danger lurks beneath the sea, mermaids seek vengeance with song, and magic is a choice.

She will reign.

As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer — the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.

When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.

But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder — and more peril — than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.

I am the right choice. The only choice. And I will protect my kingdom.

The Beast Warrior – Honest Book Review

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

The Pushkin Children's UK cover  for The Beast Warrior. Red and pink hues with a dragon-like face with the silhouette of a person on the nose.

Rating: ★★★★ (4/5)

Review: 

So I read ‘The Beast Player’ a while back and I distinctly remember combing the internet looking for the second book, and failing that, a release date. Alas I couldn’t find anything but I resolved to try and find it one day. And then it turned up on my Twitter feed one day and I jumped at the chance to be able to review ‘The Beast Warrior’.

Set 10 years after the end of ‘The Beast Player’ and spanning a large amount of time this book is more political and more dark than its predecessor. It drags you in and takes you for a ride that left me in tears by the end. I fell in love with human characters and beasts alike and these books take you on such a journey.

I love reading translated works, and especially fantasy translated works because its familiar but it deviates from the older fantasy that is so revered in the West. Uehashi has created something unlike anything I’ve ever read before and it reeled me in and kept me hooked.

I love Elin. You follow her from childhood all the way until she is an older adult and her character growth is just so great to see. She becomes confident and her bond with the Royal Beasts just becomes stronger and stronger. And to be able to experience this bond as a reader is something magical. I loved Leelan and the rest of the family, I felt like I watched them grow and become something special. I almost felt like I was the one who had the bond.

This book is a lot more political than the one before. But it isn’t bogged down in confusing politics. Rather it sweeps you up into the tale, and while politics drive the plot they don’t feel contrived or unnecessarily complicated. Elin stays firmly on the outside of things and her want to protect the Royal Beasts well and truly keeps this story firmly rooted.

This is a beautiful story that will both lift you up and rip your heart out. But I loved every second.

Synopsis: 

Ten years have passed since the events of The Beast Player. Elin and Ialu are married, with a young son, living a quiet, peaceful life when one day Elin is called upon to investigate a matter of great urgency: the fearsome Toda are dying and nobody knows why.

As Elin investigates, she uncovers a deadly plot and a brewing invasion. Can she protect her homeland without allowing her beloved beasts to be used as weapons of war, or will she have to compromise her principles to save her family?

 

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars – Honest Book Review

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

UKTSiaSoS-Cover-Reveal-Social-Graphic-1024x512-Notext

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Review: 

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars is one on my most anticipated releases this year, and my god it did not disappoint. At all.

This is the epic space opera I never knew I was missing. Paolini has written one of the most rich, expansive and well crafted universes I think I have ever come across. It is also incredibly well-researched, as shown by an appendix which features an entire paper on how FTL (faster than light) travels works and how it can’t be used for certain things that could be plot breaking, plus it answers any questions you might have about it. Honestly, I haven’t come across a world this rich and this incredible I think ever. This universe is huge, spanning planets we know and planets we don’t. Alien species that are reminiscent of others and ones that I broke all expectations and creeped me the hell out.

I loved our MC Kira, she’s undergoes an incredible character arc and growth that is so organic and so real that I found myself welling up at the end of the book and the journey she takes. There isn’t a flat character to be found and even the ones I disliked at the start found a place in my heart by the end. They’re real, and fleshed out and the rag-tag group that Kira travels with just perfectly fit together.

This book is gigantic. It’s plot heavy and I think for the first time in a while I didn’t get lost or confused by the plot, I didn’t get lost by who was who. I know what was going on, I knew who each character was. This complicated, epic book kept me hooked and kept me interested. I didn’t get lost and each bit of information is given at the perfect time, so you can reflect back on past chapters and see how the story comes about. It is well, well worth the time you’ll put in reading this.

I’ve heard there will be more stories in this universe and I’m not anxiously awaiting the next one. TSIASOS has jumped to the top of my favourite books and it’s going to be there for quite some time.

Synopsis: 

It was supposed to be a routine research mission on an uncolonized planet. But when xenobiologist Kira Navárez finds an alien relic beneath the surface of the world, the outcome transforms her forever and will alter the course of human history.

Her journey to discover the truth about the alien civilization will thrust her into the wonders and nightmares of first contact, epic space battles for the fate of humankind, and the farthest reaches of the galaxy.

Alpha Omega – Honest Book Review

Thank you to Titan Books for the review copy!

alpha omega.jpg

Rating: ★★★★ (4/5)

Review: 

I saw this described as Ready Player One meets Black Mirror, and actually, this is an incredibly apt description, and probably the best way of describing the vibe you get from this book.

So you follow a few point of views. You have Gabriel, who has been expelled from the school and is the ‘gamer’ of the book. Essentially he spends most of the book in the VR world and while he does interact a tiny bit with the main story, he ultimately has his own plot that runs parallel to the main plot. I’m not entirely sure how it intersects and I kind of wish he had more of an impact on the main plot, as the blurb seems to hint that he is super involved with the plot in the ‘real world’. And also, he’s pegged as the central character whereas I saw him as more of a supporting character.

There is who I think of as the main character and that is Tom, a teacher at the school. He is the one who begins to piece together the plot and who brings various other characters together. So, I think the story more focusses on him and his interactions with the school and the main plot.

This book is freaky. You can completely see how this could be a world in which we live. Schools and neighbourhoods run by sponsorships, tablets replacing pen and paper, and a VR world that almost everyone is a part of. It’s a fascinating thing to read as you can see this happening, and it’s a little close to home.

The author doesn’t hold your hand during the plot. You have to piece together quite a lot of it and it took me until the next day to really figure out the ending. But it’s one of those great books where you have a revelation about it a few days after you’re finished, because it sticks with you. Yes, you’ll have to work a bit hard to put two and two together and to work out what exactly is going on. But, if this sounds like your kind of book it’s 100% worth reading.

Synopsis: 

Something is rotten in the state of the NutriStart Skills Academy.

With the discovery of a human skull on the playing fields, children displaying symptoms of an unfamiliar, grisly virus and a catastrophic malfunction in the site’s security system, the NSA is about to experience a week that no amount of rebranding can conceal. As the school descends into chaos, teacher Tom Rosen goes looking for answers – but when the real, the unreal and the surreal are indistinguishable, the truth can be difficult to recognise.

One pupil, Gabriel Backer, may hold the key to saving the school from destroying itself and its students, except he has already been expelled. Not only that – he has disappeared down the rabbit-hole of “Alpha Omega” – the world’s largest VR role-playing game, filled with violent delights and unbridled debauchery. But the game quickly sours. Gabriel will need to confront the real world he’s been so desperate to escape if he ever wants to leave…

We Just Clicked – Honest Book Review

Thank you to HQ Fiction for the review copy.

we just clicked.jpg

Rating: ★★★ (3/5)

Review: 

I was pretty excited to read this book, and I have to say it was a very enjoyable read!

The characters were pretty much either likeable or unlikeable for me. Izzy’s friends tended to be very likeable characters who stood by her side and made great cheerleaders for her, as well as producing some funny content that wasn’t about instagram. However Luke I found to be entirely unlikeable and pretty much a cliche of an instagram-obsessed person, and I sincerely hope these people do not entirely exist. He’s all about the instagram to the detriment of almost everything else and the ability to start taking photos mid-conversation was pretty impressive. Izzy was a bit more grey for me, I really liked her but it’s obvious to the reader that her dream of being instagram famous comes at the cost of her personal relationship and life.

We all know that instagram is a persons highlight reel. But I think this represents the extreme end of the scale where everything is done for instagram and the fantasy world they create isn’t in the slightest bit real. Also the severe lack of editing before posting baffled me but that was a pretty minor note when you read about the lengths they go to to get the perfect instagram shot.

This will make a great light summer read, and I would recommend it for that reason!

Synopsis:
Izzy Brown has always dreamed of being an Instagram influencer. So when her colleague and fellow Instagrammer Luke suggests they ‘fake date’ to boost their profiles, Izzy says yes – against her better judgement.
Now Izzy’s profile tells the story of a confident, glamorous thirty-something with the perfect boyfriend, and her follower numbers are shooting upwards. So what if Izzy can’t stop bickering with Luke, his habit of checking his quiff in every single mirror is driving her insane, and behind the scenes she’s hiding a secret heartache? Everyone tells a few fibs on social media, right?
But when Izzy runs into Aidan, the mysterious stranger who saved her the day her world fell apart two years ago, major sparks start to fly between them. Izzy’s sure she can have the online success she’s always dreamed of, whilst continuing to fall in love – and heal her heart – in real life. After all, Aidan doesn’t use social media… what could possibly go wrong?

The Illustrated Child – Honest Book Review

Thank you to HQ Fiction for the review copy.

the illustrated child

Rating: ★★★ (3/5)

Review:

Ah, wow. Here I was thinking this was a nice feel-good summer read. But instead I got a tale that turns harrowing, with themes of child abuse/neglect and mental illness.

This was a hard one to read. It seems fairly whimsical and this strange story of a girl and her Father, but once you read deeper and as you get further into the story it becomes more and more sinister. As it’s only told from Romilly’s point of view nothing ever seems ‘wrong’, some things are confusing to her but ultimately she’s just living her life. And as an adult reader you see things that aren’t right and that shouldn’t be happening for her.

It is a fascinating story, and a heartbreaking read. It covers enough of Romilly’s life that you see her grow up and start taking on roles that no young teenager should have to fulfill. You see her childish wonder turn into survival.

There are some great reveals, and I didn’t see all of them coming.

It’s a beautiful story, it’ll just break your heart by the end.

Synopsis:

Romilly lives in a ramshackle house with her eccentric artist father and her cat, Monty. She knows little about her past – but she knows that she is loved.

When her father finds fame with a series of children’s books starring her as the main character, everything changes: exotic foods appear on the table, her father appears on TV, and strangers appear at their door, convinced the books contain a treasure hunt leading to a glittering prize.

But as time passes, Romilly’s father becomes increasingly suspicious of everything around him, until, before her eyes, he begins to disappear altogether.

In her increasingly isolated world, Romilly turns to the secrets her father has hidden in his illustrated books, realising that there is something far darker and more devastating locked within the pages…

The truth.